Cornel West: Reflections on Austen

Cornel West is a professor at Princeton University, civil rights campaigner, and author of many works on race, religion, and politics, including Hope on a Tightrope: Words and Wisdom, Race Matters, and The Cornel West Reader. No stranger to the screen, he appeared in two sequels of the movie The Matrix, and featured in the recent documentary Examined Life, about the importance of philosophy. President Obama has referred to West as "a genius" and "an oracle." West has just published his autobiography, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud.

"I think the letters of Jane Austen are quite interesting. If you're looking for some grand philosophic reflection on method in literary expression you're not going to find it, but you are going to find what was on the mind of this towering literary figure at particular moments, the ways in which she was actually occupying her time, and her own propensities toward what we call gossip. We eavesdrop when we read the letters of a great figure like Jane Austen."